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Hidden Patagonia

Cochamo Patagonia Chile SYMG Brokvist

About the trip

Join us for an unforgettable 10-days of guided trekking through the virgin paradise of Northern Patagonia. Along the way you’ll become intimately acquainted with this region of the Andes, which has only just recently gained the touristic appreciation it deserves. We will enjoy contact with a rich local culture, hiking through pristine temperate rainforests, and marvel at towering granite peaks reminiscent of those of Yosemite. We spend our time in the superlative Cochamó and Puelo River Valleys, using a diverse set of trails including ancient trade routes as well as tracks created in just the past few years in the building of the new park, Tagua Tagua. Our small group will head way off the beaten path through the untamed regions of Chile and do so in style as our daily efforts are rewarded with incredible scenery, fascinating people, cozy accommodation, tasty local cuisine, and delectable Chilean wines. Simply put, you’ve got to see this place!

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS:

Hike through impressive native rainforests amidst the ancient Alerce Trees

Trek beneath towering cliffs and peaks of Cochamo, the “Yosemite of South America”

Experience the rural way of Patagonian life at estancias within the Rio Puelo Valley

Boat across three stunning mountain lakes

Be among the first to explore this uniquely untamed region of Chile

WHY SYMG?

Collectively the SYMG guides and staff have years of experience trekking and traveling throughout Patagonia.  National Geographic has named us “Best Outfitter on Earth” and we’re renowned for our unique itineraries, exceptional guides, small groups, and attention to detail.  We also work closely with local staff in an effort to support the local economy and to make sure that you get the most out of your trip from start to finish. With SYMG, every Chile trip is the trip of a lifetime and this small-group departure to Patagonia’s most unique and undiscovered regions is one of our best! To learn more about our travel philosophy and style, click here. 

YOUR GUIDE:

Includes friendly bilingual guide, with a passion for native flora & fauna, and local history & culture. All SYMG guides are professionally trained, hold advanced medical certifications and carry VHF handheld radios in case of emergency. Gratuities are accepted and appreciated for a job well done.

GRADE:

Moderate-Difficult (Difficult if partaking in all hiking activities, notably within Cochamo, otherwise moderate). This trip is pack horse/porter assisted which means one can expect to hike with a day pack weighing at most 15 pounds (7 kilos) for a maximum of 8 miles (13 km) per day over rugged trails with some steep ups and downs.

ACCOMMODATIONS:

We will spend the first night of the trip in a quaint B&B in Puerto Varas, Chile. The next two nights we will be ‘‘glamping’’ inside the cozy refugios of Parque Tagua Tagua. Night four we will enjoy the surprising comforts of Mitico Puelo Lodge. Nights five and six we spend at the Campo Eggers Bed & Breakfast in Llanada Grande. The next two nights are spent in the quaint Mountain Lodge of La Junta. The final night is again spent at the B&B in Puerto Varas.

EQUIPMENT:

We supply all group gear (water filters, group first aid kit, etc.).  Participants may choose to supply their own sleeping bag (20F or warmer), but don't need to. Participants will bring their own clothing and footwear. A detailed gear list will be sent to you upon registration.

MEALS:

All meals included as indicated in the program below. We can adapt the menu based on medical needs. (9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners and trail snacks). We take pride in providing excellent meals even in remote surroundings.

TRANSPORTATION:

All transportation is included from airport on day 1 to airport on day 10. That includes round trip van transport to/From Puerto Montt Airport (PMC), van transfer from Puerto Varas to our wilderness playground, round trip ferry to cross Lago Tagua Tagua, van transfer to and from Llanada Grande, small craft ferries on Lago Azul and Lago Las Rocas, van transfer to Cochamó.

INCLUDED:

Meals (as noted above), group camping gear (as noted above), personal camping equipment (as listed above), accommodations (as noted above), mule and porter support, transportation (as noted above), applicable permits, professional mountain guide(s), all incidental gratuities for local staff (this does not include your trip leader), pre-trip planning packet, and trip support from our friendly office staff.

NOT INCLUDED:

Round-trip Airfare to Puerto Montt, Chile, Personal clothing and footwear, personal gear not listed under “Equipment” above, tips for main guide/trip leader (10-15% of trip cost is customary), alcohol on Night 1 dinner, Dinner on Day 9, and optional (and highly recommended) trip insurance.

PREPARATION:

Training is paramount to the enjoyment and success of your trip. We recommend exercising in the months prior to your trip to bolster sustained cardiovascular/aerobic activities as well as core and leg strength. Day hikes with a full backpack, preferably on hilly, off road terrain, is the best way to train for our trips. Activities such as cycling and step-master type machines are also excellent and preferable to a routine comprised solely of running.

 

Full Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive to Puerto Varas

Our transport awaits at the Tepual International Airport in the southern city Puerto Montt (code: PMC). You’ll meet your guide and ride through scenic farm roads to the town of Puerto Varas, about 30 minutes away. After checking in to our quaint hotel we’ll gather at 6pm for a short orientation of the trip where you’ll meet your fellow travelers and hear more about the trip from your guide. A group dinner follows, just a short walk away through town. (D)

 

Day 2: Parque Tagua Tagua: Refugio Alerces             

After breakfast we’ll depart Puerto Varas and head toward the Andean volcanoes that dot the skyline. The views become more spectacular as we proceed and it feels as if we are leaving the modern world behind. After a short ferry ride across the fjord the pavement comes to an end and we wind along the coast of the Reloncaví Estuary to the mouth of the Puelo River. We eventually arrive to Lago Tagua Tagua where our boat transport awaits. A short but beautiful ride across the lake sees us to the remote and unexpected entrance of Parque Tagua Tagua. This is where our real adventure begins! We begin our hike up the valley and through a pristine temperate rainforest recently protected within the borders of this private park. We will arrive at Refugio Los Alerces by late afternoon, a charming cabin bordering a stunning lagoon. We get settled in, share a dinner cooked on a wood-burning stove, and retire to the cabin’s tiered lofts to pass the night. 4.5 miles of hiking with 1200 feet of ascent (7 km/350 m) (B, L, D

Day 3: Parque Tagua Tagua: Refugio Quetrus            Patagonia Chile Tagua Tagua SYMG Refugio

Today we will enter a portion of the park that is truly incredible. Stunning waterfalls abound and as we proceed along the trail we begin to notice a change in the composition of the forest. We now enter a huge grove of a very special tree, the mighty Alerce. These redwoods are the cousins of the giant sequoias of California and are the second longest living seed-born trees in the world. Tagua Tagua exists to protect these old-growth temperate rainforest groves, and we’ll encounter many individual trees over 2,000 years old! As we travel up the trail, we encounter a climb up a system of stair-like ladders and are instantly rewarded by the natural gem that is the upper step of the valley. Words simply do not express the beauty of this unforgettable place. We will arrive at our quaint lakeside cabin at about lunchtime and have the rest of the afternoon for short hikes to explore the Alerce rainforests, Laguna Quetrus and its surroundings. This is Patagonia! 3 miles of hiking (more is optional) with 800 feet of ascent (5 km/250 m) (B, L, D)

Day 4: Parque Tagua Tagua and Mitico Puelo Lodge

After breakfast we pack up and say goodbye to the granite peaks of the park’s upper steppe. Heading back down the hill, we descend with a deeper understanding of the park’s secrets and an appreciation of the artistic design of its trails. After a short rest by yet another waterfall, the valley widens and opens to a spectacular view above Lago Tagua Tagua. To the south, the Rio Puelo Valley summons us. A short water ferry across the lake takes us to our accommodation for the night, Mitico Puelo Lodge. This remote hotel was built by helicopter in the mid 90´s and offers luxurious accommodation despite being completely off the grid. Powered by a hydroelectric turbine and fueled by a cauldron that burns driftwood from the Puelo River, the contrast of remoteness and comfort offers an experience like none other. 7 miles of hiking with 1850 feet of descent (11 km/550 m) (B, L, D)

Day 5: Exploring the Puelo River Valley               Patagonia Chile Cochamo SYMG Brokvist Bridge

We awaken to a buffet breakfast with a stunning view of the temperate rainforest that surrounds us. Today’s itinerary is easy-going and gives us a bit of time in the morning to absorb this pristine setting. Optional short hikes around the premises of the hotel offer a wonderful chance for photography or bird watching; it’s like walking through a postcard. In the late morning our transport awaits to take us deeper into the Puelo Valley. ‘‘Puelo’’ in the native language means water from the east, and today we will follow this magnificent river through the mountains almost reaching the border of Argentina. After driving about 20 miles (32 km) by van we will arrive to a quaint town of 400 people called Llanada Grande. On the outskirts of town we find Campo Eggers, a cozy bed & breakfast run by Sergio and Blanca Eggers at their estancia. After settling in, we will take a short hike to see El Salto de Llanada Grande, a roaring waterfall from which the entire town gets their electricity and drinking water. We return to Campo Eggers where we will spend some time with Don Sergio learning about his farm. He’ll tell us about life on a working ranch in rural Patagonia, and we might even have the chance to participate in some fun chores, depending on the days’ needs. 2.5 miles of hiking mostly flat (4 km) (B, L, D)

Day 6: Lakes and Culture of the Puelo River Valley

After a hearty breakfast we’ll lace up our walking shoes and hike along the local trail to Lago Azul. There are no misnomers here as the lake’s glacial waters shine crystal blue in the noontime sun. Don Miguel Gallardo awaits us on the lakeshore to ferry us across in his boat. We will accompany him to his home on the southern shore where we will enjoy a nice Patagonian style lunch. After our meal we will hike another couple of miles through a unique forest, discussing the history of the colonist families that arrived here just a few generations ago. After a couple of miles, the forest opens up and we find ourselves on the shore of Lago Las Rocas. Here Don Gallardo meets us once again to ferry us across to a trail that will lead us back to the main road to Llanada Grande. We meet our van, and shuttle back to wonderful food and wines at Campo Eggers for the evening. 8.5 miles of hiking, mostly flat (14 km) (B, L, D)

Day 7: Cochamó Valley

In the morning we say goodbye to our lovely hosts and to the Puelo River Valley. A 3-hour van & boat transfer sees us to the quaint fishing village of Cochamó and the entrance to the famed Cochamó Valley. After loading up our packhorses we’ll lace our boots and hit the trail. We will make our way up the Cochamó Valley along an ancient trade route created by the original inhabitants of the area as a conduit to Argentina. It’s even rumored that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ran cattle on these same trails. Ascending higher, we begin to notice how the steep valleys and their proximity to the humid sea air create microclimates and cause this forest to differ from those of Parque Tagua Tagua and the Rio Puelo Valley. Each place is unique and each as stunningly beautiful as the last. In the late afternoon the forest canopy begins to open and offer us some well-earned glimpses of the peaks of Cochamó. We arrive to an expansive clearing called La Junta and finally understand why this valley is referred to as the ‘‘Yosemite of South America’’. We meet our hosts at the Campo Aventura Mountain Lodge who invite us to kick off our boots, uncork the wine, and take in the Patagonian evening. We finish the day with another home-cooked meal while discussing the possibilities for tomorrow. 7 miles of hiking with 1200 feet of ascent (11.5 km/350 m) (B, L, D)

Day 8: Cochamó Valley

The Cochamó Valley offers a multitude of hiking options for our second day here. We will discuss these options considering personal preferences, skill levels and weather during a hearty breakfast. From 3000 feet (900 m) up, the valley’s real beauty unfolds before our eyes – sheer granite cliffs and peaks that are a simply unforgettable sight to take in. These dramatic vistas will be our goal for the day, and we’ll lighten or loads to carry just the bare essentials up one of the steep mountain trails. We eat our lunch while contemplating the significance of being in a forest of redwoods older than Socrates. Once our cameras have their memory cards full of keepers, we will begin our descent back to the refugio for more cozy comfort and good eating. 5 miles of hiking with

+/-3000 ft of ascent & descent - easier options are also possible (7 km/900 m) (B, L, D)

Day 9: Cochamó Valley and Puerto Varas

After breakfast we pack up and say goodbye to our gracious hosts at the Mountain Lodge. Today we descend the Cochamó Valley reflecting on a week well spent. At the bottom of the hill we drop our daypacks for the last time, unburden the packhorses, and board our transport back to the ‘‘real’’ world. We will be pulling in to Puerto Varas in the late afternoon, a bit tired, but in that good way. After a shower and rest in our hotel, we meet in the hotel for a celebratory ‘‘pisco sour’’ and we discuss the option of sharing a group farewell dinner at a local restaurant. 7 miles of hiking with 1200 feet of decent (11.5 km/350 m) (B, L) 

Day 10: Departure day

You’ll meet with your guide and transport one last time in the morning, who will escort you to the airport. You’ll then start the journey home, content in knowing that there are still a few tucked away corners of the globe where rivers run free and people are working hard at the simple life. (B)

**Note: SYMG offers an extension to Torres del Paine National Park that begins this day, transferring to Punta Arenas (PUQ). Combined, these two itineraries cover everything Patagonia has to offer, from the unique temperate rainforests, blue lakes, and culture of this trip, to the classic sights like Torres del Paine.***

Trip Details

Duration
10 Days/9 Nights + optional Torres del Paine trip extension

Group size
2-7 participants with 1 bilingual mountain guide

Trip Rating
Moderate-Difficult

Price
2018 Price:
$3895.00 per person (5-7 registered participants)
$4195.00 per person (3-4 registered participants)
$4995.00 per person (2 registered participants)

Prices based on shared occupancy.
Requested Single rooms may be available at an additional charge of $880.00
Forced Single rooms $680.00


Date in Trip 2018
February 24-March 05, 2018

Date in Trip 2019


Testimonials

Jason was amazing!! We couldn't have asked for a better guide. He was friendly, kind, amazing with the children (and us parents), sweet, honest, trusting, forthcoming, flexible, and always had plan B in the back of his mind. We always felt comfortable, safe, taken care of, and happy. He went above and beyond and helped our children with their homework, and also taught them valuable lessons through amazing stories. We are so fortunate to now call him our friend.

We had an amazing time on the trip, and it was such a wonderful bonding and learning experience for our family. We are so grateful to SYMG and Jason for agreeing to take our children - we have a hard time finding companies that allow children, even on private trips. (Despite ours hiking as well as many adults!) Our travel with Jason was very smooth, and we enjoyed some excellent meals and lodging. "Hidden" (Northern) Patagonia is a very special place, and we loved exploring it.

-The Brener Family, New York. Feb, 2017

SYMG and their in-country guides know the pristine valleys, the random hidden trails, and the local treasures, including the gracious and happy people, that make Patagonia come alive. Whether you explore the temperate rainforest of northern Patagonia, or the awe-inspiring mountains, rivers, and glaciers of Torres del Paine in the south, or both, as we did, SYMG provides a wonderful mix of hiking exercise, unforgettable experiences, and full adventure.

-Don L. from Santa Barbara, 2015

Patagonia is an amazingly awesome place to visit. Nowhere is the land, the culture and the accessibility still so capable of evoking a 19th century experience as the upper reaches of the northern Lake District. But if adventure of this sort is what you want, guides are a must. The logistics are daunting, access permission is required (many of the special places are on private lands), and the range of vehicles required is diverse (boats, trucks, cars and mules). And thus, retaining an experienced guide is a must. I can't think of a service more experienced and capable than SYMG. Unless you want the brain damage of OJT, then seek out SYMG and have the time of your life! These guys really know how to do this. Oh, and one more thing. You're going this far for adventure? Then, GO TO TORRES DEL PAINE IN THE SOUTH! As unique a mountain range as exists on the planet! Just Do It!

-Charlie W, 2015